See the Sculpture That Uses Human Blood to Protest the FDA’s Restriction on Gay Donors

The blood of nine gay and bisexual men represents the discrimination created by the policy.
(Photo: Courtesy Jordan Eagles)
Aug 16, 2015· 1 MIN READ
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

The thought of standing inside a rectangular block of blood might sound like a gory way to spend an afternoon to many Washington, D.C., museumgoers, but the message behind this installation is worth the visit.

Nine gay and bisexual men donated their blood for an upcoming art installation at the American University Museum to help shed light on the FDA’s restriction on blood donations. Using up to a pint of blood from each donor, artist Jordan Eagles created a seven-foot structure in which observers can see their own reflection and even step inside.

“There’s an interconnectivity with blood. We all have it. We’re all human,” Eagles told TakePart of his project, titled Blood Mirror. “Now it’s about working to make it so that we’re all treated the same.”

(Photo: Courtesy Jordan Eagles)

Fears of HIV transmission in the 1980s led the FDA to issue regulations on blood donation that specifically target gay men. Blood screenings have come a long way in the past 30 years, but the FDA continues to limit gay men who want to donate the life-saving liquid. The lifetime ban on donations from this community was lifted in 2014—but only if donors promise to remain celibate for an entire year before donating.

Eagles first learned about the FDA’s ban on gay donors when he was turned away at a donation center while in his early 20s.

(Photo: Courtesy Jordan Eagles)

“After I filled out the paperwork, they told me I couldn’t donate,” he recalled. “I was so upset, but what made me more upset was the fact that they tried to keep it for their record, like they could discriminate against me and then file my information so other donation centers could do the same.”

More than 10 years later, Eagles still feels the humiliation from that moment. However, with his sculpture, he hopes to connect with those who have also experienced the discrimination created by the ban and bring awareness to those who didn’t know about it.
(Photo: Courtesy Jordan Eagles)

The nine men featured in the sculpture include an 88-year-old openly gay priest, a soldier who was reinstated following the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a transgender man, and a Nigerian LGBT activist living in political asylum in the U.S.

“The policy is strictly there because of the stigma that HIV is a gay disease, but it’s not—it’s a global issue,”
said Eagles. “This sculpture is a way of getting people interested in helping solve it.”